The Allergy Medication and Alzheimer’s Connection

over the counter allergy medicationSince researchers at the University of Washington first released their findings on side-effects of some common medications, people have had many questions about the relationship between common over the counter allergy  medication and dementia, pneumonia, and other side effects.

Initial Anticholinergic Study

The initial study linked long-term high dose of a common class of antihistamine, antidepressant and bladder control medication to serious, irreversible side effects such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

The Allergy Medication Connection

Anticholinergic medications work by suppressing the action of acetycholine in the body and brain.  This is a neurotransmitter.  That means it transmits messages to the brain.  Two over-the-counter allergy medications fall into this category:

  • Diphenhydramine (Bendryl)
  • Chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton)

Diphenhydramine is also a common ingredient in over-the-counter sleep medications (like Tylenol PM, Advil PM, etc.).

Other Medications in This Class

Antihistamines were not the only medications identified.  The antidepressant doxepin and the bladder control medication oxybutynin are also in this class. Sertraline (marketed as Zoloft) is included in the class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). This class of drugs is used to treat depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. Read more here:

 Allergy Medication Alternatives

If you are still taking the older generation allergy medications, look at some of the newer offerings.  Loratadine  (Claritin, Alavert) is highly effective for many people with seasonal or indoor allergies.  The inhaled corticosteroids such as Flonase can provide relief when oral medication does not.

Allergy Control without Allergy Medication

allergy-wordsNot only should you talk to your doctor about your medication, you should also talk about other measures you can take to relieve your symptoms without medication.

If you suffer from seasonal allergies, using a nasal rinse or neti pot with a saline solution can provide relief.

If you are allergic to dust, make sure you wash sheets regularly and use allergy mattress covers and pillow covers.

Til Next Time!


Back to School with Asthma and Allergies

time-is-nowYes the calendar still says July, but its not too early to start thinking about your back to school strategies for dealing with asthma and allergies.   You and your doctor know what needs to be done to keep your child’s asthma and allergies under control, but do the people at school?

Your School Asthma and Allergy Team

The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology recommends that you enlist the help of the following school personnel:

Teacher – Your child’s teacher should know your child’s triggers. So, make sure you tell them.  Also, make sure that your child takes their medication BEFORE they leave for school. Don’t miss a dose.  Also, don’t let allergy control measures at home be lost in the back to school craziness that happens the first few weeks of every school year.

Room Parent – If your elementary age child has food allergies, be sure to let the room parent know.  This is especially important if the school allows treats to be brought in from outside.

School Nurse – Take time to discuss emergency procedures with the school’s nurse.  Even if your child is returning to the same school, it doesn’t hurt to provide a quick refresher.  Ever since 2010, all 50 states recognize a student’s right to carry and use emergency asthma and allergy medications such as rescue inhalers and Epi-pens.  If your child has been prescribed emergency treatment medication make sure your child and school staff know how to properly use it.

PE Teacher/Sports Coach – Asthma and allergies doesn’t mean your child must sit on the sidelines. If your child’s doctor has given the go-ahead for participation in sports, then make sure that the PE Teacher or Coach knows what to do in case of an asthma-related event.  Exercise-induced asthma events may signal that the asthma is not under control.

Boost the Immune System Before Back to School

It never hurts to start boosting the immune system before the back to school assault begins.  Be skeptical of remedies and treatments off the shelf that promise to increase immunity.  The tried and true methods are just common sense:

  • Make sure adequate hydration is maintained – that means drink water
  • Get plenty of rest – that means no more all night video game sessions
  • Eat right – that means more frozen juice bars and fewer ice cream cones
  • Play outside – just make sure to use sunscreen, then get some Vitamin D naturally
  • Wash your hands – that doesn’t mean drown in hand sanitizer, it means use soap and water after playing outside and again before eating

Continue to avoid allergy and asthma triggers as much as possible in the lead up to school.

Back to School Physical

Don’t delay in scheduling your child’s back to school physical.  This is a great time to discuss any changes in medication or treatment that may be necessary as your child grows.

Have Fun

Make the most of the remaining days of summer.  Don’t let asthma How to Send you child with allergies to campand allergies hold your child back from swimming, playing, and enjoying childhood.

Til Next Time!


Read – How To Prepare For An Asthma Attack

Trendy Supplements For Asthma Don’t Work

In a recently published article in the May issue of Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Hortensia Moreno-Macias reports that her review of published studies indicates that there is no clear evidence of a relationship between the use of antioxidant supplements and other dietary supplements and a decrease in allergies or asthma.

Oxidative stress stimulates the inflammatory responses that can lead to allergic diseases such as asthma, allergic rhinitis, atopic dermatitis, supplements for asthmaand food allergies. The conventional wisdom holds that antioxidants would relieve this oxidative stress. However, a review of the published studies does not show this to be the case.  So much for conventional wisdom!

In short, while there was no compelling evidence that the use of fish oil, vitamin C, vitamin E and other antioxidant supplements for asthma had a positive impact on allergies or asthma they found out that it didn’t harm either.  The researcher recommends that in certain situations where antioxidants might not be available in the diet that supplements for asthma might be appropriate.

So, if you feel your diet is not complete and you want to take an antioxidant go ahead, just don’t expect it to help your allergies or asthma any more than eating a well balanced diet.

Wishing you the best of health

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